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Old 23rd December 2012, 12:12   #1
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Default Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

I received a call from Force Motors Pune one late evening and to my surprise I was invited to take a test ride of the new Gurkha. The very prospect was an exciting one and I couldn't wait for the next 14 hours to check what the new Gurkha had in store.

At the Force Motors Office Pune, I had a very warm welcome and was taken to another section of the company premises.

To my great disappointment, we had to leave our mobiles & cameras at the security counter.

So no photos ,videos etc..

On the way to the testing grounds (FML is a 260 acre property), we saw superb testing facilities for MAN trucks, which apparently are no longer with FML.

So coming straight to the point.

We saw the new Gurkha. It was poorly camouflaged; black color and the usual 3 door variant.

The exteriors:

The vehicle's original stance is unchanged
Roof ski racks installed
The front grill has been changed and the looks are definitely fresh
The lamps are round projectors
The snorkel is standard
Typical bonnet mounted indicator lamps remain
The fenders are no more iron, but of fiber instead
The cow guard is yet unchanged and present
The skid plate under the front diffs are the same and so also under the fuel tank
The rear looks good due to the new bumper (again fiber) with a different tail lamp assembly and the neat alloy wheel
The side steps are aluminium and rear view mirrors plastic

Opened the bonnet and there was a sigh of relief.

The clutter and untidiness of the engine bay is no longer there. The bonnet underside is now lined with heat and sound absorbing materials.

The EGR valve is here to stay, but now has an EGR cooler unit. This EGR cooler unit will further reduce soot formation and the engine performance.

The turbocharger +intercooler assembly is the same. Battery position is the same.

Front axles have a different housing .

The engine is the same 2.8L Di FTI 4 cylinder. It comes with the same VP6 Bosch ECU.

The GM of R & D Mr.Gurav told us that the power specs have been improved and no more does this engine throw a 56kw (75 BHP) power output the older Gurkhas had. Hastily, he declined to offer me the exact specs. "You will know when the vehicle is launched", he said.

Wheels: Stock size now is 245/70 R16. Comes with Apollo A/T tubeless & alloys. Alloys are decent and look good. The wheel arches are superior to the older ones.

Significant Changes in the transmission line. The crown and pinion ratio is 4.1:1 (as compared with 4.88:1 in the previous Gurkha). The final ratio at the wheels remain almost the same, since the new tire sizes are 245/70 (7.5 R16 in the older versions). The new tyre height is 29.5 inches as compared to the older 31 inches. That brings down the ground clearance and increases the overall rpm at the tyres.

We will see how the above factor transmits into the final performance of the vehicle later.

After all these observations, I decided to enter the cock-pit.

The seats are space age stuff as compared to the older Gurkha seats. Nice, comfortable & adequate back and thigh support. They also sport an arm-rest..Driver side leg room is good.

Co-driver side space is a little cramped if you are taller than 5'10". The rear seats are comfortable too.

The gear shift, both the normal and 4wd are space age material. They slot in smoothly and effortlessly. All past Gurkha owners had to use both their hands to change the 4wd gear shift, once in a while, when the vehicle was new . In this Gurkha, a 10 year old girl can slide the 4wd gear shifter easily .

The steering wheel is the same, but the drive is much smoother. It also gave proper feedback of the road below while driving.

The dash is the same old creepy plastic with an incorporated RPM meter, clock and (I was told) optional GPS. The indicator cluster is the same. EDC light is now housed in the main cluster (and not separately). The air con vents are different, but still appear cheap.

The handbrake is at a much better place. In the center, near the gear shifter, rather than the very inconvenient lateral position of the old Gurkha.

The diff locks are cable operated and have the same turn and pull switch.

The new Gurkha is minus the PTO now .

THE DRIVE:

At the turn of the key, the engine started and the noise is far lesser than it was supposed to be.

The drive revealed far lesser NVH levels than I had experienced in my new Gurkha. The ubiquitous rattles for which the Gurkha was known seem to have finally evolved (or atleast in this test mule). The burst of power was amazing. Throttle response was linear and the power was coming on effortlessly without any lag.

Couldn't do a max speed test since the factory did not have an open track to check it. The turbo kicks off very soon in the low rpm range and is active mostly throughout the entire rpm range..a characteristic of the Gurkha.

Then we headed to the Force Motors Offroad testing facility

FML engineers cautioned me that driving on the offroading ground needed extreme skills. A small hillock with steep climbs, descents and an inclined plane was all that FML had for its offroading track. The entire track difficulty could, at best, be described as "medium" for a regular offroader.

The best part of the track however was the diff-lock pit trail, something which amazed me and I couldn't help but profusely appreciate the track designer Mr Gurav .

Enter the offroad trail. I wasn't allowed to drive first. The R&D guys drove the vehicle throughout the track and then offered me a drive.

Put the vehicle in first LOW and let it crawl. The performance was amazing, the vehicle simply carried itself at crawl through all the obstacles, no matter how steep the climb was. I had to engage the rear diff lock at 2 places only whilst going through the articulation pit track.

Give this vehicle to a novice with some gall and a brain sound enough to use the steering wheel, and the Gurkha would take him places without any effort.

A major downside : The descend is not that good now and slight braking needs to be applied, otherwise the vehicle comes down rather fast. This is something that Gurkha owners never faced before .

Overall conclusion about the drive :

1] NVH vastly reduced.

2] More power available at all rpm ranges.

3] Superb crawl.

4] Better articulation, smaller wheel?

5] Adequate braking on slopes.

6} Superb gradeability.

7] The descends are not that good. One does need to brake, otherwise the vehicle comes down pretty fast. One of the main forte of a Gurkha is its water fording capacity, its crawl and the sure-shot, safe steep descent. With the New Gurkha, the "mantra" for a very steep descend will no longer be "NO ABC".

OVERALL IMPRESSION OF THE VEHICLE:

I am in love with the Gurkha again, simply because this is what we had wanted from a Gurkha and which we as current owners did not get.

Better interiors, better workmanship, better material used, a peppier engine, a more serviceable engine bay, an easy to use gear shift, comfortable seats, stock alloys, choice of colors (Red, white and black), both hard top and soft top variants and much more. The A/T tyres provided with this vehicle are much better than the hard JK no-good tyres which used to be the stock tyres of the older Gurkhas. The looks are also better

The downside is the reduced GC, say by an inch, the reduced gear ratios, absence of the PTO and the use of new "rear axles ". I mentioned the last as a downside, since the rear axles on the older Gurkhas were simply indestructible (derived from MB).

Prices and the exact release date were kept classified. However, FML says it will launch the vehicle in the next month. It was learnt that FORCE ONE with the 4wd and ABS variant is also slated for a launch next month.

Last edited by GTO : 23rd December 2012 at 16:25. Reason: Correcting typos
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Old 23rd December 2012, 14:06   #2
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Default re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Thanks for sharing! Thread moved to the 4x4 Vehicles Section.

From a related thread (SCOOP Pics & Video - 2013 Force Gurkha)






Last edited by GTO : 23rd December 2012 at 14:11.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 18:21   #3
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Thanks for the review, looking forward to the launch and the official team-bhp test drive.

Good to have alternatives to Thar and Gypsy for the 4x4 community
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Old 24th December 2012, 09:33   #4
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Dear Mohan - hello! Thanks for your comments above. This is indeed a nice thing to happen for the benefit of the end customer. Now, he will be able to compare between a healthy choice of products and put his money down on what meets his exact needs. Way to go!

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 24th December 2012, 10:17   #5
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Post Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Thanks for the review, mohan

Quote:
Originally Posted by mohan View Post
...To my great disappointment, we had to leave our mobiles & cameras at the security counter...
They could have arranged a test-drive outside factory premises, allowing pictures and videos, which IMO would be a better PR exercise.

The cost spent on camouflaging could have been spent usefully elsewhere , since the body-shell-design is the same, nothing to hide here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mohan View Post
...The engine is the same 2.8L Di FTI 4 cylinder. It comes with the same VP6 Bosch ECU.
...
The current engine is a 2.6L , right ?

How I wish they had put the 2.2 L CRDi engine (current Force One engine), now that would be a serious USP for this 4X4 vehicle.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mohan View Post
...The crown and pinion ratio is 4.1:1 (as compared with 4.88:1 in the previous Gurkha)....
Bad move by Force motors :-(

Last edited by Blue Thunder : 24th December 2012 at 10:23.
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Old 24th December 2012, 10:22   #6
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

May, I ask a silly question ? Does this vehicle have a dead pedal ?

I see a Gurkha, or is it an old Judo (anyways it has the snorkel), everyday on my way to office and it comes in the opposite direction. One thing I can say for sure is that it really has a very compact frontend & really tight design with good driver visibility and going by appearance, it seems it can manouvre through some really limited spaces just like an M800 can.
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Old 24th December 2012, 10:44   #7
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Mohan,

That was a good, comprehensive review.

Photography not allowed, reminds me when I took the Thar prototype for a TD at the Nashik plant. Bahram Sir was a beaming father I wanted to click more than the vehicle.

What sums up as per your report, that the previous drive train as compared to the new, the weighty Gurkha with improved power output will is a huge plus.

Diff ratio change from 4.88 seems to be making the Gurkha roll down descents, like the Thar. The tyre downsize and changed diff ratio is is actually not good for off roading.

M&M take cue.
Regards,
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Old 24th December 2012, 12:31   #8
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Dear Mohan,

Can you also comment in detail on how the power delivery felt, as well as your impressions on braking?
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Old 24th December 2012, 17:20   #9
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Although the Force One could not serve as a proper contender to the XUV, I really wish this can serve as a threat to the Thar. The design of the alloys looks good. Mohan sir, please advice them to do better interiors and not leave them unfinished like the Force One. ( With edges so sharp and uncovered areas/exposed metal )
O.T.: The New Force traveler (I guess CRV V16) is so smooth and runs like butter. I envy when i see drivers drive that, Also the instrumentation is nice and the gear is on the engine bump (inspired by the i10).
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Old 24th December 2012, 19:21   #10
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Why dont force motors make diff lock Vacuum operated taping brake booster vacuum, rather than cable system. press of a button it should work.

Last edited by narendra.vw : 24th December 2012 at 19:22.
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Old 25th December 2012, 11:17   #11
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Indeed a good upgrade to the existing platform, its a handsome vehicle too. The one which is closest to the cult G design. With these added comforts it becomes a great safari tourer vehicle. Any idea if they have managed to cut the flab, i always felt the vehicle was too heavy which often results in bog down in offroad situation. A weight reduction program would make this vehicle a juicy option
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Old 25th December 2012, 13:45   #12
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Finally, there is some competition for Thar CRDe. Comes with a proper Hard Top. The heaviness will hopefully get negated by the more powerful engine.

I hope they take the Sales & Service seriously this time.
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Old 25th December 2012, 14:02   #13
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Sounds promising. For me, this vehicle has always been the closest replacement I could buy in India for my Defender 90.

I hope they get the engine specs right, and pity about the diff ratio change.
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Old 25th December 2012, 15:59   #14
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Some issues discussed so far :
1) Axle ratio :
2) Weight :
3) Power:

1) Axle ratio : In my opinion it is going to work both ways , "for the good" and "not so good". How many buyers of Gurkha would put it to serious offroading ,very few in my opinion. For them this vehicle would blast its way on the highway with the reduced ratios and the gain in the rpm . The harshness is going to come down and so does the sound .The Appolo Hawkz A/T , although not a benchmark tire ,is sufficiently good on road and the overall NVH quotient is far superior.That is the "for the good" . Whats "not so good " ,is for the serious and frequent offroader (very few ) who would have to apply a slight brake while coming down.
The reduced Axle ratio of 4.1 dosent translate directly ,as the wheel size has been reduced,thereby the crawl is unaffected. In fact due to a stronger engine the crawl was superior to my Gurkha which has a 4.8 ratio and a 235/85/16 tire.
We cant comment on the GC yet ,though likely its reduced,interpolating through the tire size. But its possible that the diff housing size is reduced thereby the GC may not be altered much. We would have to wait till the official specs come in.

(2) Weight : Again the official specs are to be revealed ,but because the rear axles are changed ,and use of fibre has been incorporated instead of steel , alloys and reduced tire sizes and other amendments definitely must have reduced the flab.
(3) What the Gurkha was wanting all these days was POWER . This issue seems to have been attended to. (I had to break the immobiliser codes on my Bosch ECU and tweak it to give my Gurkha the additional power it needed).

All said and done , the Gurkha seems poised for a serious challenge .
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Old 25th December 2012, 18:45   #15
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Default Re: Pre-Release Test Ride : New Gurkha 4x4 @ Force Motors Pune

Thanks Mohan for a brief review. Gurkha's main issue was lack of power and specially in low ratio. Has the low ratio been revised? If not,coupled with taller 4.1 ratio it will suffer in deep sand & muck conditions. Revised interiors is a good thing.

I personally like the way 5 door Gurkha looks. The current face lifted 3 door one isn't to my taste.
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